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Would You Supersize My Cancer, Please?

A Case Study Exploring Chemicals in the News



Co Authors:

Ashley Coffelt
Department of Chemistry
Missouri State University

Mark M. Richter
Department of Chemistry
Missouri State University
markrichter@missouristate.edu

Abstract:

The recent discovery of acrylamide in both fried and baked foods like French fries and potato chips has caused alarm. Acrylamide is both a known carcinogen in animals when administered in high doses and a neurotoxin when humans are exposed to large amounts in the workplace. However, the link between acrylamide in food and human health is much less clear. In working through the case, students compare the accuracy of news headlines, articles, and web pages with the information presented in scientific journals. This case was designed for non-science major courses and can also be used in seminars.

Objectives:
  • Compare and analyze the headlines of news articles, assuming all are generated based on the same scientific information.
  • Compare and analyze the headlines of news articles with the content of the news articles.
  • Compare and contrast the information presented in news articles with that found in scientific articles.
  • Have students evaluate their own choices (with specific reference to French fries) as more information is made available to them.
  • Have students appreciate the value of chemistry, and science in general, to their everyday lives.
Keywords: Acrylamide; arginine; toxicity; carcinogen; neurotoxin; exposure; risk assessment; fried food; cancer risk; carcinogen; science journalism
Topical Area: Scientific method, Science and the media
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Chemistry (General)   Science (General)   Nutrition   Food Science / Technology   Journalism  
Date Posted: 03/25/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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